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Yankees Insider: Masahiro Tanaka will return next week

Masahiro Tanaka makes two rehab starts - including Wednesday night in Rhode Island - before getting the call to rejoin the Yankees on their west coast road trip.Charles Krupa/AP

Masahiro Tanaka makes two rehab starts – including Wednesday night in Rhode Island – before getting the call to rejoin the Yankees on their west coast road trip.

OAKLAND — The wait is over. Masahiro Tanaka is on his way back to the Yankees.

The righthander was headed for California Thursday night to meet the Yankees, and assuming he has no setbacks during the next few days, Tanaka will start against the Mariners on either Tuesday or Wednesday at Safeco Field with a pitch count of approximately 80.

Tanaka allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over three innings on Wednesday, pitching for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Pawtucket. He threw 62 pitches (44 strikes) in the no-decision, but reported no pain in his wrist or forearm.

“We’ll have a heart-to-heart talk with him, how he feels about where he’s at,” Joe Girardi said. “You want him to feel good, number one. Number two, you want him to feel comfortable with his stuff, that he feels that he’s ready to go. You don’t want someone going out there if they don’t quite feel that they’re ready to go.”

Tanaka hit 93 mph on the radar gun Wednesday, averaging 91 mph with his fastball. In his last big-league start on April 23, Tanaka’s fastball averaged 90.9 mph. Girardi has no plans to utilize a six-man rotation, making Chris Capuano the odds-on favorite to lose his spot to Tanaka.

SLADE SIDELINED
Slade Heathcott was a late scratch before Thursday’s game due to a sore right quad, replaced by Chris Young in center field and the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

Heathcott is 6-for-17 (.353) with one home run and three RBI in his first six games since being called up from Triple A to help replace Jacoby Ellsbury.

“He’s been dealing with it for about the last five or six days,” Girardi said. “He’s come in and been OK one day, then he wasn’t. He was a little sore today, so (he was scratched).”

Heathcott said the nagging injury hadn’t been an issue since spring training, but he felt it tighten up a few days ago. 

“It’s been very easily manageable,” Heathcott said. “Came in today just a little more tender, and we just decided that giving it a day or two here would be better than four weeks.”

NOVA PROTESTING
Ivan Nova threw 63 pitches in his sixth extended spring training start on Thursday in Tampa. Nova, who is coming back from last year’s Tommy John surgery, will make one more extended spring start next week before starting a minor-league rehab assignment. 

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